Fine Gael wants to let you change your street’s name
Party’s manifesto for May's council elections aims to ‘make the recovery local’
Taoiseach Enda Kenny (left) at the launch of the Fine Gael local election campaign in Dublin. Their election manifesto promises the party’s councillors will support selling “social housing to tenants at an attractive discount”, the level of which will be decided by councils, Mr Kenny said. Photograph: Alan Betson
Fine Gael will allow residents to change the name of their street or estate if a “simple majority” of registered voters on the street agree to do so.
The party’s local election manifesto says the “naming of estates and roads has become an issue for many homeowners in recent years” and has proposals about how changes can be made.
“In the spirit of devolution, the Minister for Environment will introduce new regulations as part of ongoing local government reforms to make it easier for residents to change the name of a street or locality by a simple majority of the registered electors,” it says.
The senior Government party’s message for the council elections is “make the recovery local”; and comprises three main proposals and promises.
Firstly, Fine Gael says its councillors will cut the property tax where possible and will support schemes to allow tenants in local authority homes to buy their houses.
Local authorities will have the power from next year to increase or decrease the property tax by 15 per cent.
Fine Gael councillors will not increase the property tax at all and will decrease it where possible, such as in councils with high commercial rates bases in urban areas.
As reported in The Irish Times last week, this is likely to benefit urban councils, particularly those around Dublin.
“We will ensure that no council will be worse off following these reforms,” the manifesto says.
It is also proposed that projects to be funded from property tax receipts will be debated at the new municipal district committees on councils, so local people can get “more involved in the debate” about how their property tax is spent.
Secondly, Fine Gael also says it will not increase commercial rates and will reduce them where possible, with a “jobs and small business package in every council budget”.
And Fine Gael councillors will support selling “social housing to tenants at an attractive discount”.
The level of discounts will be decided by councils, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said. The Cabinet discussed a tenant purchase scheme at its meeting earlier this week, and Fine Gael says its councillors “will ensure that your council avails of and robustly implements” this deal.
This scheme will be linked to household income, with the highest discount available to those families in the lowest income band who can sustain a mortgage payment. The scheme will also be structured to “discourage the sale of the property in the years following the purchase by the tenant”.
Other highlights of the manifesto include a renewed commitment from Fine Gael to the concept of a directly elected mayor for Dublin and a promise to work on alternative proposals to those which were vetoed by Fingal County Council earlier this year; giving councils the power to issue antisocial behaviour warnings to residents of local authority housing; moves to levy landlords of vacant premises to allow for more development; and a “best urban village” competition in the Dublin local authority areas.
Mr Kenny said Fine Gael is running 458 local candidates, and he hopes that 350 can be successful.